Northampton Electronic Collection of Theses and Research

The creative benefits of play

Thomas, V. (2014) The creative benefits of play. Paper presented to: 7th InternationaI Toy Research Association (ITRA) World Congress: Toys as Language and Communication, Faculty of Philosophy, Catholic University Of Portugal, Braga, 23-25 July 2014. (Unpublished)

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Abstract: Playing is a creative process generating and stimulating design. In Northampton we have been playing with concepts about the benefits of designing toys, putting the ideas together to form an exhibition. We created a play space to stimulate discussion and share of experience. We took a shop unit and then a gallery and turned them into giant toy boxes and a linked corridor space was turned into a street closed for play. The toys, banners, boxes and graphic “windows” communicated seven benefits of the creative aspects of play. Toy design and production benefited the while community in the twentieth century as the regions was then centre of toy production in the United Kingdom. This local history is only now being recorded to be shared and stimulate toy design and production in the region once again. The second part looked at the benefits of toys for children with the work of the Abbatts, Galt and Page and the designers that worked for them Garland, Sampson and Limbrick. We thought these benefits were accepted in schools only to find teachers reporting that they were using the exhibition to lobby Government about the importance of play in British schools, where these activities are under threat. Therapeutic benefits of making and playing with toys were explored through the design of play spaces in hospitals and the design work of Limbrick and Lear. The value of designing and selling toys to charities like Sue Ryder, RSPCA and UNICEF was showcased. A representative from UNICEF attended and communicated the vital importance of designing toys for distribution in disaster and conflict situations, allowing children to cope with change and loss. Play is creative for all whatever their age or capabilities. We had a shed in the centre of a play office interior. Retired members of the local community brought their model trains and communicated their enthusiasm for play with visitors. Toys are being used in the creative industries to stimulate new design ideas and to generate sales. The links to integrated marketing campaigns where licensed properties work with toys, stimulated debates on whether such work boosts or stagnates creativity. The fifth part of the exhibition looked at the benefits of play at undergraduate level and formed part of a previous paper at the Bursa conference. But today we are exploring play as part of sociable design and play spaces. Working with designers of games, playgrounds, interiors and architects. Graduates are working with local firms and local authorities designing “natural “play equipment for parks and undergraduates with the owners of a local ‘theme park’ - Wicksteed. The penultimate part of the exhibition focused of the current issues about toy design. The area is still a distribution hub if not a manufacturing one. Firms like John Crane, DKL are meeting the challenge of designing for a new generation. But with an eye to the issue key of what is considered a ‘good toy’ today and who is the really player and payer. Adults are making many of the design and buying decisions and previous experience are affecting their choices. Throughout the exhibition there was a sub text about the links between the publication world and the toy from Boys Own annuals to on-line publications. What is the relationship between the publishing world and the toy industry? For us the communication through an exhibition has been vital to piecing together a set of ideas about creativity and toy design, which proved to be highly relevant on a local level but has also resonated with others in ways that we did not expect.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Play, toys, creativity, Orme, Northampton
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of Education > LC237 College-university and the community
T Technology > TS Manufactures > TS2301.T7 Toys
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF309 Consciousness. Cognition > BF408 Creative ability
N Fine Arts > NC Drawing. Design. Illustration > NC390 Study and teaching
Creators: Thomas, Vicki
Funders or Sponsors: The University of Northampton, Northampton Museum & Gallery
Northamptonshire and East Midlands: Business and Industry
Faculties, Divisions and Institutes: University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Research Centre > China and Emerging Economies Centre
Research Centres > China and Emerging Economies Centre

Faculties > Faculty of Arts, Science & Technology > Design & Photography
Date: 23 July 2014
Date Type: Publication
Page Range: pp. 1-48
Event Title: 7th InternationaI Toy Research Association (ITRA) World Congress: Toys as Language and Communication
Event Dates: 23-25 July 2014
Event Location: Faculty of Philosophy, Catholic University Of Portugal, Braga
Event Type: Conference
Language: English
Status: Unpublished
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